Injury Alert: Khabibulin on the shelf, Sutton may never play again

Jonathan Willis
October 27 2012 09:27AM

Even when there’s a lockout, it seems like injury news is an unavoidable part of the Edmonton Oilers experience. This holds true even for the players not playing elsewhere. As the Edmonton Journal’s Joanne Ireland reports, veterans Andy Sutton and Nikolai Khabibulin are both currently on the injured list, and the news isn’t good.

Ireland’s piece is here (h/t Lowetide). We’ll start with the more surprising and more disappointing news.

Sutton: “I may have played my last game “

Sutton, who talks in the piece about how he had planned to retire last year but stuck with it because he enjoyed himself so much in Edmonton, had surgery a little over three weeks ago to correct a knee problem that came up over the summer. Now he’s looking at a second surgery, and Ireland quotes him as displaying something other than confidence:

I was going to retire after last season. I’d had a good long career, especially for a guy who was never drafted, but I enjoyed myself so much in Edmonton I decided to sign on for another year. I am usually a pretty quick healer, but I have a pretty long road ahead. I had trained so hard and was in such good shape. But this is another thing I have to deal with. I may have played my last game last year and not even known it. This injury has really beat me up. I had trained so hard and was in such good shape, probably the best shape of my life. I had never felt better. You think of your farewell and how you’re going to do it ... and now all that has changed for me.

It will be unfortunate if this latest injury, as seems likely, forces Sutton into retirement. The Oilers had the option to move Sutton at the trade deadline last year, but chose not to – not only was Sutton playing quite well, but reportedly the Oilers also highly valued his off-ice presence on the young team.

As I understand it, because Sutton signed just a one-year deal, the Oilers don’t need to worry about his cap hit sticking if he’s unable to play when NHL hockey resumes. A side effect of a serious injury would be to create space on the Oilers’ crowded back end, and buy some time for both Corey Potter and Theo Peckham to show that they have an Oilers future.

Nikolai Khabibulin injured once again

There’s less detail on Nikolai Khabibulin’s injury; Ireland describes it as “lingering hip/groin issues” from last season. Presumably these are the same lingering hip/groin issues that plagued Khabibulin before he even signed his current four-year contract with the Oilers.

Will he retire? The Oilers would be in decent shape if he did – Yann Danis should be able to provide comparable (if not superior) goaltending, while Tyler Bunz and Olivier Roy would seem to be a serviceable AHL tandem. The Oilers, with a pair of good prospects between the pipes and the lessons of years past fresh in mind, seem to have learned that depth between the pipes is something well worth cultivating.

But there’s no reason to expect retirement from Khabibulin based on the description of his injury. More likely, he’ll just provide more of what has been the norm the last few years: lots of time missed, and below-average performances when he does play.

Elsewhere...

Meanwhile, among those guys currently playing, AHL forward Josh Green is on the shelf with a rib injury and is currently probably best described as week-to-week. More concerning for Oilers fans will be the fact that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left last night's game early in the second period after taking a stick to the face and did not return. From the sounds of it, he may not play Sunday, but so far it's only been reported as a dental injury, which is painful and unfortunate for him but shouldn't have any lasting ramifications to his health as a hockey player 

Recently by Jonathan Willis

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
Avatar
#1 yawto
October 27 2012, 09:32AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

Too bad about sutton. Same old with khabby. Hopefully that is just superficial on the fist overall little nuge.

Avatar
#2 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
October 27 2012, 09:37AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
4
props

Can't wait to see Nuge in a full face shield. You think he looks like a 14 year old now....

Avatar
#3 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 27 2012, 09:41AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Yann Dannis is struggling at the AHL level, I wouldn't count on him to provide any better service than Bulin.

Avatar
#4 The Soup Fascist
October 27 2012, 09:46AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
5
props

Very sad news about Sutton. Guy is an honest player who apparently was good in the room. He brought some of the "edge" that has been missing for years. If he is done we are that much easier to play against. Maybe Theo will switch back to #49 and bring back Teddy.

Avatar
#5 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
October 27 2012, 09:48AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

Oh and our one man Russian wrecking crew had 7 SOG and scored 2 beauties* today!

*Totally didn't see the goals. Just a complete homer comment. This is how Leafs fans must feel like.

Avatar
#8 Archaeologuy
October 27 2012, 10:11AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
10
props

What I wont forget about Sutton was how absolutely SHOCKED I was the first time I saw him dangle and walk around somebody while he was rushing the puck.

It was like watching a pig fly. The guy had more skill than he was ever given credit for.

Avatar
#9 DSF
October 27 2012, 10:14AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Sutton being out shows you how shallow the Oiler's D pool really is.

If Whitney is less than 80% (a good bet), they're left with Smid, Petry, Schultz X 2 and 3 AHL level defensemen.

An injury to any of those four is disaster.

Good thing the Oilers keep drafting wingers.

Avatar
#10 justDOit
October 27 2012, 10:28AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
4
props

This goes to Sutton's character - he burned his knee out trying to be in the best shape he could. Good luck Andy!

Avatar
#13 tileguy
October 27 2012, 10:38AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

No Sutton, no Eager (me thinks he's in deep doo doo)the Oilers are sure going to be a soft easy team to bully.

Avatar
#14 Butters
October 27 2012, 10:52AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

If the Oilers would have drafted Murray, I have a feeling they wouldn't have even got the best dman. I think the better dman will end up being Morgan Reilly. The Oilers got really, really lucking in the draft lottery imo.

Avatar
#15 DSF
October 27 2012, 11:08AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm the last guy to argue the Oilers' D is deep - it's a subject I've been harping on literally for years now.

With that said, dropping Nail Yakupov in favour of Ryan Murray strikes me as a completely indefensible position.

"Gosh, they can't sign a couple of Rozsival types to act as stopgaps until Schultz, Klefbom and the rest are ready. Dump that future 40-goal scorer over the side!"

But the drafting of Moroz over Matt Finn is indefensible.

At some point soon, they are going to have to dump a future 40 goal scorer over the side in any event in order to shore up the D.

And that doesn't even begin to address the organization's woeful lack of depth at centre.

Avatar
#16 RexLibris
October 27 2012, 11:12AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

How long before Sutton joins the coaching/management staff?

Honestly, I wonder if he might have some coaching ability for the minor leagues? Maybe follow in the footsteps of guys like Rocky Thompson.

Avatar
#17 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 27 2012, 11:45AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
3
props

Best wishes to Sutton. Would have been great to see him here 10 yrs ago. Always liked his mean streak even though he'd pick his spots.

Avatar
#18 Calvin
October 27 2012, 11:48AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

This has me thinking that the lockout may end up being a blessing in disguise for our Oilers. Perhaps a period to get our affairs in order before the actual season starts. Fingers crossed!

Avatar
#19 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 27 2012, 12:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Jonathan Willis

It boggles my mind that you think Dannis is going to come in and have some sort of superior play to a guy that's been in the NHL for the past how many years?

There is a reason Yann Dannis was re-signed so quickly with the intent to play in the AHL and that no one else stepped up and offered him a one way deal.

Avatar
#20 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 27 2012, 12:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Jonathan Willis wrote:

Or, if you'd like, here's a better comparison:

Jaroslav Halak, first four games of 2011-12: 1-3-0, 0.848 SV%.

Yann Danis, first four games of 2012-13: 2-2-0, 0.887 SV%.

So you are comparing a guy in the NHL to a guy in the AHL?

Go ahead put Dannis as your backup, just don't be wondering why things go south when Dubnyk does his usually poor play when the games matter.

Avatar
#21 slurve
October 27 2012, 12:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Well, if players are injured during the lockout, are they still entitled to a paycheque? If so, then we will see more players opting for some sort of surgery especially those players of retiring age.

Avatar
#25 Smokey
October 27 2012, 12:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props
DSF wrote:

Sutton being out shows you how shallow the Oiler's D pool really is.

If Whitney is less than 80% (a good bet), they're left with Smid, Petry, Schultz X 2 and 3 AHL level defensemen.

An injury to any of those four is disaster.

Good thing the Oilers keep drafting wingers.

R u bored today. Its a nice day get outta the basement. Troll the old ladies in your neighborhood.

Avatar
#26 vetinari
October 27 2012, 12:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

I feel bad for Sutton... I was expecting Khabi to injure himself picking up his fat wallet... and Oiler management failing to build in some contingency plans over the summer... (Slow clap)...

Avatar
#27 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 27 2012, 01:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Jonathan Willis wrote:

Yes. Players on IR get paid.

Injured during the lock out is a different story though, isn't it? They weren't injured on the Oilers dime.

Think these two guys are SOL as far as getting paid goes.

Avatar
#29 Rama Lama
October 27 2012, 05:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

Very sad news about Sutton.......very well spoken with the right attitude for a young team.

I doubt that we will be able to replace his kind of character easily...........surprisingly good hands and puck patience for a third pairing defenseman!

Avatar
#30 Dawn
October 27 2012, 07:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Don't count out AHL goaltender of the year yet. No reason he can't be a serviceable backup in the NHL.

Avatar
#31 The 'Real' Ron Burgundy
October 27 2012, 08:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props
Jonathan Willis wrote:

Second paragraph of Ireland's piece:

Sutton, along with goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and winger Taylor Hall, were all injured when the NHL locked its doors last month. As a consequence, they are all under the care of the Oilers and they’re getting paid.

I love that ST has to pay Khabby during the lockout, he should never be allowed to forget that beauty of a signing.

Comments are closed for this article.